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Hamas says Gaza truce talks 'positive'
Published Thursday 24/07/2014 (updated) 25/07/2014 17:17
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Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal holds a press conference in the Qatari
capital Doha on July 23, 2014 (Al-Watan Doha/AFP Karim Jaafar)
CAIRO (AFP) -- A senior Hamas official said on Wednesday there had been progress in negotiations to end the Gaza conflict but that the Palestinian militant group needed detailed guarantees that Israel would ease its blockade of the enclave.

Talks to end the 16-day conflict have intensified with US Secretary of State John Kerry shuttling between Jerusalem and Cairo in a bid to forge a truce.

Hamas had earlier rejected an Egyptian proposal that called for a ceasefire first and then negotiations, highlighting that they had not been shown the agreement beforehand. Israel, which had accepted the truce, subsequently expanded its assault in response.

The Hamas official acknowledged that the militants realized that getting Israel to end the eight-year siege in tandem with a ceasefire was unrealistic.

"There needs to be an agreement on the principles, the schedule (for ending the blockade) and the mechanism," the official said.

Hamas's chief Khaled Meshaal on Wednesday again insisted on a ceasefire only after an end to the siege, in force since Hamas was democratically elected in 2006.

The official, who works closely with Meshaal, said however that they understood that the blockade would be eased only after the ceasefire, but they required a schedule in place first.

The conflict has killed 659 Palestinians, 34 Israelis and a Thai worker in Israel.

The official said he hoped the negotiations would bear fruit "in a few days."

"The atmosphere in the talks is positive," he told AFP in a telephone interview.

Kerry had also said negotiations were making progress. "But there is still work to be done," he told reporters in Jerusalem.

Hamas is blacklisted by Israel and the United States as a terrorist organization and conducts the negotiations through intermediaries.

Aides traveling with Kerry voiced hope that the diplomat could find a way for Israel and Hamas to end the violence and then negotiate indirectly.

"There are a number of different ideas out there for how the ceasefire could work -- there are a number of different formulas -- and we’re open to any of them," a senior US official said after Kerry met Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

'Talk of guarantees'

The Hamas official said the group required firm guarantees and details before signing off an a truce.

"There should be guarantees by the parties demanding a ceasefire," he added, referring to the United States but also to Egypt, which controls the Rafah border crossing with Gaza.

The official asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to share details of the negotiations.

Egypt brokered a truce in 2012. But its new President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew the democratically-elected government of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi last year, has been hostile to Hamas and commands less influence over the militants across the border.

Meshaal, who is based in the Qatari capital Doha, said in a press conference that Washington had offered to "guarantee" such an agreement, but it had a track record of not following through.

Another Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, said Kerry's commitments were vague.

"There are no American guarantees," he said in an interview with the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera broadcaster.

"There is talk that guarantees will come," he said, adding that Hamas required clarifications.

Hamas's position has been bolstered by support from Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, an opponent of the group before agreeing a unity deal with them in April.

Abbas's PLO has said it agreed with Hamas's demands, which also include freeing Palestinian prisoners. He met Kerry in Ramallah on Wednesday.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
1 ) Colin Wright / USA
24/07/2014 10:02
Lucy, Charlie Brown, and the football again. Hamas can get whatever 'guarantees' she likes from Israel; Israel will just break her word as soon as it suits her. Ask the prisoners 'released' in the wake of the Shalit deal about that.

2 ) Colin Wright / USA
24/07/2014 10:06
' "There needs to be an agreement on the principles, the schedule (for ending the blockade) and the mechanism," the official said.' Lol. Over the years, such 'mechanisms' have been set up for variously halting settlements, extending Palestinian autonomy, releasing prisoners, electing a government, and probably lots else. They all founder on one thing: Israel never keeps her word.

3 ) Uncle Sufa / USA
24/07/2014 10:10
He came out of his luxurious Qatar secure base to speak for 45 minutes, shame he does not come home. To admire and look at the destruction of Gaza that the military wing of Hamas has caused, by firing rockets and missiles and mortars shells at the Jewish State of Israel.

4 ) Billy Bragg / UK
24/07/2014 10:17
''The IDF spokesman reported that 150 Hamas operatives had turned themselves in to Israeli forces Wednesday in the Gaza Strip. The Shin Bet detained 70 for interrogation.'' Well the Hamas militants have certainly made a step in the right direction, for themselves and their families and their futures.

5 ) Mel's mom / USA
24/07/2014 10:22
Ban Ki-moon "expresses his outrage and regret at the placing of weapons in a UN-administered school," a United Nations statement said "By doing so, those responsible are turning schools into potential military targets,. Ban also expressed alarm over the disappearance of 20 rockets found hidden in one of those schools. He is outraged; think how the school kids feel at having their schools demolished.

6 ) Randi / NJ
24/07/2014 13:31
oh uncle Sufa.....ya know? this time both the PA and Hamas ae on the same side. Epic win. should Khaled visit Gaza and hi brother now? did that already. let's see if Lucy with the piece of paper she wont sign...10 points and all? can be coaxed into saving men,women,and children and drop her dam demands for the football. Barack has that here and the Patriot act to use on we all kow who. that'll stop it all for good. Israel will finally see that one US Jews' life isn't worth this. fight the US don

7 ) Randi / NJ
24/07/2014 13:44
Mels' mom? school is one problem even the UN can't fix. over the summer they hace 2 camps. UN secular and Hamas run religious. if the Israelis' would ever give a care about anyones life but Jews? for real? there would never be another Qassam thrown to waste metal followed by a total flippimg out of IDF high ups when too many never hit anythng nor kill anyone. see? the IDF did it again 7/8. we've had enough. why don't they just collect the metal?

8 ) Never, Forever, & Ever / Talks
24/07/2014 14:38
Hamas "talks posatively" about a truce now, only because its supply of rockets is running low, and it plans both (a) to resupply as soon as a truce is restored, and later (b) to attack in the near future, and on these terms:
- Israel guarantees NEVER to "Ease Its Blockade of the Enclave", while
Hamas Supports A Resistance (Abduction, Terrorism, & War Crimes), and
- Hamas guarantees to FOREVER Support A Resistance, so
- There Will Be No Truce EVER again !!!

9 ) The Hamas-Israel / Reality
24/07/2014 14:49
- Hamas "realizes that getting Israel to end the blockade in tandem with
a ceasefire is unrealistic", and Hamas will soon realize that getting
- "Israel to provide a schedule for ending the blockade" will require that
* Hamas must also provide a schedule for ending the Resistance, and
the schedules for ending the Blockade and the Resistance must coincide !!!

10 ) Levi / USA
24/07/2014 16:09
Too little, too late. Even the dovish Tzipi Livni says today, "No cease-fire with Hamas." She said, "Some people seem to think every military activity should be brought to an end in imagined agreements, and that an agreement should be made with Hamas. I say no... I'm not ready to give extremist elements in the region what they want to see. We do not need Hamas' approval for a cease-fire. I am in favor of deterrence, of executing military operations against Hamas until it is deterred."

11 ) Khaled / Canada
24/07/2014 17:16
''The IDF spokesman reported that 150 Hamas operatives had turned themselves in to Israeli forces Wednesday in the Gaza Strip. The Shin Bet detained 70 for interrogation.'' Is this the same IDF spokesman that took a week to realize one of his soldiers is missing. RIGGGGHHHHTTT

12 ) bill / U.S.A.
24/07/2014 17:50
The Hamas official said the group required firm guarantees? I am sure that the rest of us would like to require firm guarantees from Hamas as well! Hamas would go along way in giving Israel a require firm guarantee if it adopted the quartets and the worlds requirement that it acknowledged Israels right to Exist, agreed to nonviolence, and accept all agreements previously signed. When this happens everything will be made new! Without this nothing will change!

13 ) ABE / USA
24/07/2014 19:34
Also the Palestinians both Fatah and Hamas must RECOGNIZE the State of ISRAEL!

14 ) David / USA
24/07/2014 23:51
The world doesn't want a truce, a hudna. We want Hamas destroyed and Mashaal and Haniyeh imprisoned for life as war criminals. What else would you call leaders who instigate rocket attacks against a sovereign nation? What would you call 'leaders' responsible for the deaths and injuries to thousands of Gazans? The people of Gaza should be screaming for Haniyeh's head on a stick. Hamas is ultimately responsible for every death and every injury to the people of Gaza. Get him like Qadaffi got it.
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